Brewer and Rosenthal Bill Would Allow Folding Bikes in Passenger Elevators

A bill from Gale Brewer and Helen Rosenthal would allow folding bike access in passenger elevators of commercial buildings.

A bill from Gale Brewer (left) and Helen Rosenthal would allow folding bike access in passenger elevators of commercial buildings.

Five years ago next month, the city opened the door for bike commuters — or more accurately, their bikes — with the Bicycle Access Law. That law provided, for the first time, a legal framework for New Yorkers to petition commercial landlords for bike storage space at work.

A new City Council bill could improve upon existing rules. Tomorrow, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Council Member Helen Rosenthal will introduce legislation that would require commercial buildings to permit folding bikes — so long as they are “fully folded” — on passenger elevators.

Under current law, access for all bikes can be limited to freight elevators. Intro 897 would simply allow commuters to access passenger elevators with the rough equivalent of a piece of carry-on luggage.

You may recall what a huge lift the Bicycle Access Law was in 2009. Ben Fried described it as “the biggest legislative victory ever achieved by bicycle advocates in New York City.” To get it passed, advocates and friendly electeds had to overcome what Ben called “some notion of office building propriety that the mere sight of a bicycle would violate.” The climate isn’t altogether different today — cyclists still have to contend with bike-averse landlords and security personnel. But in the era of Citi Bike, and even Vision Zero, maybe this common-sense bike access measure will have a smoother path.